In 1988, 21-year-old Eric Johnson embarked on a new chapter in his life. After studying law enforcement and playing baseball at Yuba City Community College in California, Johnson had been offered a job with the city’s police department. “My career plan was to be a city cop, then highway patrol and then the FBI,” he says. “That was my goal.”
Then his father, Gary, who had been working for the family business, Johnson Propeller, since he had graduated from high school, informed the family that he was thinking of retiring. “Dad was pretty worn out,” Johnson says. “He was contemplating selling the company and just getting out, and he and my grandfather Ivar convinced me that it was my turn to take his place and keep the family tradition going.”
Now 51, Johnson drives the helm of the family business, having completed the buyout of his father last year. He moved the company from California to Loudon, Tenn., in 1997 and lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with his wife, Douglass; son Tyler, 20; and twin daughters Kendall and Camryn, 14.